The game on Sunday was one of the roughest I’ve seen in awhile, and not just because I owe my friend a six pack because the Broncos won. The Pats got dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Chandler Jones and Nink were non-factors the entire game and I’m not sure Peyton was ever under pressure. On the offensive side, Knighton had a day against the Pats O-line. We could not stop him. He constantly disrupted the run game and was a menace in the passing game. The sack on 4th and 2, where he swam past Mankins faster than Michael Phelps pretty much summed up the Patriots day. Julius Thomas, especially, and the rest of the Broncos weapons were unstoppable. Manning had a day, and if he can win the Super Bowl, he will definitely make a case for being the GOAT (I don’t think he is but this win really helped his case and his pundits). A lot of people have been talking about the defense, how losing Talib was crushing etc, but this loss is all on the offense. Without Talib, the Patriots were able to hold the Broncos, who AVERAGED 37.9 points a game, to 26 points. Just to put this in context, the Broncos were held under 26 points once, the entire season. That’s pretty fucking good on its own, let alone all the injuries the Pats have suffered. Anyone who is talking about yards when evaluating defense is a fool, points rule all.
Because the Pats are so good, every time we lose we say at least there’s next year. So to keep myself from crying, I’m going to focus on what the Pats have to do this offseason to succeed next year. Assuming no one goes and murderers someone, this team is rock solid on defense. Even without Talib, Wilfork or Mayo, the defense did a solid job keeping Peyton out of the end zone and making the Broncos settle for field goals, no small feat. Talib’s injury is not going to help his case in the offseason. I’m betting he’s not willing to settle for the money the Patriots will offer. We will see, but Belichick has been notorious for letting expensive CBs walk for more money elsewhere. Talib has yet to have a season where he doesn’t get injured, so hopefully he’ll sign another one year deal to try to prove he can go without a hangnail or his hip exploding for 16+ games. Dennard only has 60 days in jail so he’ll be back too. Factor in Arrington, McCourty and Logan Ryan and our secondary is one of the best in the AFC. Jamie Collins is finally looking like the versatile outside linebacker Belichick drafted him to be. Dont’a Hightower, is looking like he can fill in for Spikes in stopping the run, but isn’t slower than molasses in January. Patriots defense will be one of the top 3 in the NFL next year. Mark it.
This offseason, we have to act like we don’t have Gronkowski. Obviously, the offense this year under-produced what with Aaron Hernandez going to jail and all, but we can’t continue to rely on Gronkowski to get us to the Super Bowl. I know his injury was a freak accident and what not, but he continues to get injured and has not played a season through playoffs, without a game impacting injury. We have to act like he’s gone and try and build a winning offense without him. Its not like he’s a one dimensional player, so whatever offense we decide to build he will easily factor into, but we can’t make moves this offseason saying, “Well when Gronk comes back…..” Can’t do it. The run game is solid, Brady is solid(ish), the rookies are better and Edelman is amazing. I’m not sure what Belichick’s priorities will be for the draft, but as long as he and Brady are at the helm, the Pats will be a pre-season Super Bowl favorite year in and year out.